There Only Reason To Hire A Personal Trainer
Let's define a coach as someone who instructs, advises and/or assists others in the implementation of specialist knowledge. I would usually include a dictionary definition, but I found athlete, bus and train related answers to my search, none of which were ideally-suited.
As a coach, my speciality involves training and nutrition, so that is where I am best-placed to comment. However, the principles of coaching extend to business, finance and everything else... life coaching is even a thing!
Hiring a Coach
To make the right decision about hiring a coach, you need to look beyond clever marketing, large social media followings and photo-editing software.
We can debate the ethics of fitness selling, because the reality is that the fitness industry is unregulated and therefore the emphasis is on you - the consumer - to make an informed choice when hiring a coach.
When it comes to selecting a coach, there a number of considerations to make.
- What interests you?
- resistance training; boxing; running; etc.
- What can you commit too?
- how many sessions; intensity of training; duration of program.
- What can you afford?
- price often determines accessibility to coaches; assess return on investment.
- What do you need?
- training; nutrition; business; etc
While these are important considerations for shortlisting coaches, there is a single attribute a coach must fulfil to justify hiring them.
They enable you to do something you would otherwise not.
Qualifications are important. The more qualified a coach is, they have a greater depth of knowledge and understanding that can be passed onto you and applied to your training.
Experience is important. The more experienced a coach is, they have a better understanding of process, what works, and what does not.
However, if the coach does not enable you to do something you would otherwise not, they are not worth hiring.
What Do You Need Help With?
The typically enablers fall into a two categories - adherence and knowledge. Adherence-related means the coach helps the client stick to the program. Knowledge-related sees the client help develop
Coaches can be skilled at both, but dominant in one or the other. Army-style bootcamps are high on the adherence and motivation, while sports scientists are heavy on the knowledge. Both can be good at their role, but have different strengths. A 65kg sports scientist politely requesting 'three more reps' will unlikely have the same motivational impact as a bootcamp instructor with the same - albeit differently worded - request.
What do you need from a coach?
- keep you accountable; investment does that.
- facilitates performance in-session, particularly at high intensity.
- depth of understanding
- practical experience
Many new trainees need adherence-related coaching at the outset. A coach's depth of knowledge is rarely a limiting factor in the initial stages of progression. Instead, adherence to any system is the focus. Once adherence is achieved, then we develop the need for greater knowledge for progression.
If you are hiring a coach for adherence purposes. Personal training (1:1) obviously provides the strongest potential adherence, but quite often small group (2-6) and group training (6+) will provide the required adherence and accountability, at a lower price. Low price does not necessarily mean cheap or poor value. Group training is usually cheaper than 1:1 sessions, which means you can use the saved money from a 1:1 session to access a better coach for small group sessions.
While group sessions also have the added benefit of other people to motivate you, there can be drawbacks. If uncomfortable with exercise to begin with, adding a group of six other people might be the last thing you need.
It is also important to avoid the rent-a-friend relationship between coach and client, but particularly Personal Trainers. It's OK for you to talk between sets and build rapport, but when the work is there to be done, get after it!
Knowledge and adherence goals are not diametrically opposed. Instead, knowledge is both progression - and later regression - from adherence. Once a new client has demonstrated adherence, the knowledge of the coach will become a limiting factor at some point in the future (days, weeks, months, years).
On top of that, as the client progresses adherence can become an issue again. After 12-18 months or training and once initial adaptations have been made, the intensity and volume of training must be increased to facilitate continual progression. This increased training intensity and volume can be harder to stick to, and often adherence will decrease and results plateau. Sound familiar?
Many people want to start right from the very beginning. So while adherence might be an issue, they will hire a knowledgeable professional to get them going regardless of. This can have the added benefit of leveraging the professional's knowledge to make adherence easier, which should not be underestimated. However, it should be noted that this often comes at a greater cost than adherence-related alternatives.
Services like strategy/programming, consultations and one-on-one or small-group training are well-suited to clients requiring knowledge-related coaching.
Work out what you need to help you work out.
A coach needs to help you do something you would otherwise not. If they cannot or do not, there is no point hiring them!
To find the right coach: take the time to assess what you need, then find a coach that will help you do that.
As a consumer, you are in control! You should find a good coach via research or introduction. If they find you via relentless marketing or nagging, you can be assured of buyer's remorse.